Investigative Journalism Failure Once Again

Aug 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Jang, The News

Dawn NewsThe NewsJang

According to a report filed by Faisal Kamal Pasha in the daily “The News” of August 09, 2012, it has been claimed that the PHA Foundation awarded a contract to a “private construction company” National Construction Limited (NCL) in a dubious way.

The News Quote

The impression has been created that the contract went to NCL solely because Engr. Hasan A. Haqqani was its Managing Director, who happens to be the brother of former Emissary to US, Hussain Haqqani (Urdu version can be found here).

Dawn Media group, unfortunately, also indulged here and went along with the story without consulting NCL or listening to their side of the story.

It is very unfortunate that the reporters in both case, did not verify the facts before filing their respective findings and the reporting is, at best, one sided in which the factual presentation has been less than ordinary. It seems that both publishing media power houses decided to rely on the facts quoted by the contestant Techno Construction International, the second lowest in bidding, who has a filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court to overturn the decision of PHA for awarding the contract to NCL.

Leaving the embezzlement woes for Techno International aside, to set the storyline in its true perspective, NCL is not an entity in the private sector. Upon a simple Google search, Pakistan Media Watch came upon various documents (this being one of them ) that pointed out to us that NCL was infact a government organization. Upon further investigation, we found that it is a wholly Government-owned construction company in the public sector and operating under the aegis of Ministry of Housing and Works. Mr. Haqqani is only an appointee who joined the company on merit via proper selection criteria and protocol and took over NCL in 2009 as its Managing Director.  He is not the sole proprietor of this company nor an entrepreneur who owns massive business interests in this country so to propagate this idea that he is trying to get money for his private firm is false.

The timeline of the contract award to NCL is that on Feb 12 2012, PHA Foundation sent an invitation letter to NCL to tender for Category-III (North) phase of the Kurree Road Project. The entire housing project of PHA Foundation consists of Categories I, II and III.  Category III has two phases i.e. North and South. Our sources found out that NCL quoted for Category-III (North) and came lowest with a rate of Rs. 1485 per sq.ft. as compared to the petitioner who quoted Rs. 1550.  The way this works is that the policy of the client is to award each category of work to the lowest bidder regardless of who he may be. We also found out that the tender invitation received by NCL did not specify that the bidders will have to quote for both the finished and gray rates both.  It seems that NCL opted to quote for the gray rates and got the contract on that basis.  The tenders were set to be opened on Feb 28 2012 but were later extended to Mar 16 2012.  The decision for the award of contract was taken by the PHA Foundation according to the ranking of the bidders.

The letter of award was written to NCL by PHA Foundation on July 25 2012 by Mr. Pulphoto, who was the incumbent Managing Director at the time and perfectly empowered to write such a letter.  It was only, through a Government policy, that Mr. Haqqani was directed to assume the charge of the office of Managing Director, PHA Foundation, on 2nd August 2012, and that too in a makeshift way to begin with, in addition to his regular office of the Managing Director, NCL.  The petitioner acknowledges that the “Government appointed Haqqani as officiating in charge of the PHA”.  His only concern is that this was done before signing of the contract,

but wait…

the said letter had been written before the MD NCL was handed additional charge of PHA (letter written in July 25th 2012, additional charge handed over on August 2nd 2012). If the award letter was written before the additional taking over of charge by the new MD, how is that ‘judging one’s own cause’? If only both reporters had also looked at chronological dates of events, it would have saved embarrassment for everyone.

Some questions (among many) that arise here are:

1. Can the Government give an additional charge to one of its officers or not considering its own convenience?
2. Was this additional charge first of its kind in the bureaucratic annals of this country?
3. PHA and NCL, the two sister organizations, are involved in the construction of housing schemes and if they are placed under the control of one person for common interest, why should it bother a black listed private company that has only selfish ends to realize?
4. Presently, of the two organizations banded together, one is the client and the other is a contractor. Both the entities belong to the Government and the turnover goes to the Government’s strongbox and no one else, so is there really a conflict of interest here?
5. Should a black listed third party, with the help of overzealous reporters, advise the Government on what to do and what not to do?

The process of reporting appears to have been off-beam and the intention behind it is only to damage the reputation of Engr. Hasan Haqqani, and lower his credibility, for obvious purposes it would seem. It also helped both these power house publishing groups that Engr. Hasan Haqqani is in fact the brother of former ambassador to US, Hussain Haqqani. It would seem an excellent issue to ‘go fish’ for things, which is not new for them. It, therefore, becomes a fit case of claiming damages in a court of law to discourage similar cases of misrepresentation in future by responsible media men.

Pakistan Media Watch condemns this kind of yellow journalism and hopes Jang group and Dawn News would be more responsible in the future and try to avoid indulging in political propaganda and mudslinging for sake of ratings and sensationalism.

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